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Lacrosse: Multi-talented Madson leads West into playoffs
West Forsyth's Ella Madson dodges a defender during the Wolverines' game against North Forsyth on March 8, 2018 at North Forsyth High School. - photo by Ben Hendren

Ella Madson has two legs, so the West Forsyth junior figured that she might as well use them.

That’s why Madson has had a particularly busy spring, one in which she exchanges her lacrosse cleats for track spikes depending on the day. Speed and athleticism are paramount qualities in girls lacrosse, and Madson’s gifts of both have made her one of the most dangerous attacking players in the state, helping her score 86 goals in 18 games. She’s also been one of the top sprinters on the Wolverines’ track team, finishing third in the 400 meters at the region championship meet in 1:00.24.

“Not everybody gets two legs,” Madson said. “… God doesn't give everyone that opportunity, so I might as well use it to the best of my ability.”

Madson’s track season ended last Saturday after she competed in the sectional meet. But her lacrosse postseason is just starting and could go on for a while, as the Wolverines take one of the best resumes in the state into the playoffs, which they open at home against Allatoona on Wednesday.

This past season was Madson’s first as a competitive runner, but she isn’t quite a veteran by lacrosse standards, either. She started playing in eighth grade, coming to West as part of the first class of the Wolverines’ feeder system, and is still making significant progress in skills, like the use of her off hand. Madson was a first team All-County player last season, and she has a chance to triple the number of goals she scored in 2017.

“Every day she’s getting a little bit better and fine-tuning her skills,” Wolverines head coach Barney Marchand said of Madson. “She’s got all the athleticism, and now she’s starting to get some lacrosse skills combined with it.”

With an attack led by players like Madson and Cami Merkel, the Wolverines (15-3-1) can pour in goals with ease, having reached double-digit scoring totals in more than half of their contests. Marchand and the players also identified the team’s chemistry and camaraderie as a major strength.

“In the past, the classes have been divided,” senior goalkeeper Tori Gadsden said. “The seniors have just been with the seniors, juniors just with the juniors, and on down the line. But this year, everyone is all together. We’re playing as a team.”

The Wolverines are a No. 2 seed from their area, so the main threat on their side of the bracket could be Mill Creek, a No. 1 seed whom West would face in the second round. And should they get past that, Milton, which handed the Wolverines their worst loss of the year in a 23-7 defeat on April 20, is looming on the other side of the bracket.

“I don’t think we played our best game against them – not even close,” Madson said. “And I think we can do a lot better.”

Even with that giant looming this year, West is set to be competitive on the future, with the influence of the feeder program clear in the program’s underclassman-heavy roster. It won’t be with Marchand at the head, though, as he’ll take the lead of Denmark’s boys program after this season.

He’ll think about that later, though.

“It’s a great opportunity now, here, at West in the playoffs, and it’s a great opportunity in the future,” Marchand said. “So I get the best of both worlds.”